Blind recall: How to check if your Roman shades are safe

In the midst of a huge recall of blinds and Roman shades, here's how to check if the blind recall applies to you.

By , Staff writer

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    Millions of Roman shades (pictured) and roll up blinds are subject to a blind recall by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, announced Tuesday. Repair kits can fix many problems but some blinds need to be returned.
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If young children live in or visit your home, check your window shades. A huge blind recall is in effect.

The federal government issued a voluntary recall of all Roman shades and roll up blinds with cords on Tuesday. In most cases, the faulty shades can be fixed with a free repair kit.

The potential hazard involves children getting their necks tangled in cords used to operate the shades and blinds. Five fatalities and 16 near-strangulations have involved Roman shades, according to reports received since 2006 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).The CPSC has gotten reports of another three fatalities since 2001 involving roll-up blinds.

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Millions of shades and blinds are involved in the recall, many of which have been sold by big retailers such as Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Pottery Barn, Ace Hardware, and Big Lots.

"When parents are child-proofing their homes, they need to look at their windows the same way they look at their electrical sockets," says Nat Klein, spokeswoman for the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC), a coalition of major US manufacturers, importers, and retailers of window coverings. "We urge parents to use cordless products where children reside."

Here's how to check to see if your Roman shades and roll-up blinds are safe, according to the CPSC:

1) Examine all shades and blinds in the home to ensure that there are no "accessible cords on the front, side, or back of the product." For Roman shades, cords shouldn't be exposed so that a young child can get his or her head between that cord and the fabric — or pull out the cord and wrap it around his neck. In the case of roll-up blinds, make sure that the corded loop that pulls up the blind can't slide off the side of the blind — and that a child can't put his head between the lifting loop and the blind itself.
2) Don't put cribs, beds, or furniture near windows, because children can use them to climb up and reach the cords.

3) Ensure that loose cords aren't accessible.

4) If the shade has looped bead chains or nylon cords, make sure that there are tension devices to keep the cords and chains taut.

If your shades or blinds don't pass muster, stop using them immediately. The CSPC recommends that customers contact the WCSC at (800) 506-4636. If the number is busy, try the website. The website has more detailed information on basic cord safety, how to retrofit shades and blinds, and safety and design tips, as well as a place to order the retrofit directly online (order WCSC-82 for Roman shades; WCSC-86 for roll-up blinds).

However, in at least two cases, the CPSC recommends that consumers return the product. In the case of jute/poly-Roman shades distributed by West Elm of San Francisco, sold between 2005 and 2009, call (800) 492-1949 anytime or visit the firm’s website at www.westelm.com for details on how to get a merchandise card to cover the cost of the shade and shipping. For Wal-Mart roll-up blinds, see below.

Here are Roman shades and blinds that the CPSC specifically recommends that consumers should check:

1) Roman shades and Roll-Up blinds imported by J.C. Penney Purchasing Corp. of Plano, Texas

Sold at: JCPenney Stores, JCPenney Custom Decorating, Catalog and www.jcp.com since at least 1999 to October 2009 for between $10 and $500.

Contact the WCSC for a free repair kit: (800) 506-4636 or www.windowcoverings.org. For additional information, contact JCPenney at (888) 333-6063 or www.jcp.com.

2) Roll-up blinds and Roman shades imported by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., of Bentonville, Ark.

Sold at: Wal-Mart stores nationwide and at www.walmart.com or www.samsclub.com from January 1999 through September 2009 for between $6 and $30.

For Roman shades, contact the WCSC for a free repair kit: (800) 506-4636 or www.windowcoverings.org. For bamboo roll-up blinds, take the blinds to a Wal-Mart store for a full refund. For more information, contact Wal-Mart at (800) 925-6278 between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or www.walmartstores.com.

3) Roman shades distributed by All Strong Industry (USA) Inc., of Ontario, Calif.

Sold at: Walmart stores nationwide and other retailers from January 2003 through May 2005 for between $10 and $20.

Contact the WCSC for a free repair kit: (800) 506-4636 or www.windowcoverings.org.

4) ¼” oval roll-up blinds imported by Lotus & Windoware Inc., of Memphis, Tenn.

Sold at: Ace Hardware and Big Lots stores nationwide from January 1999 through April 2009 for between $6 and $20.

Check the back side of the roll-up blinds to determine if they have release clips. If not, contact the WCSC for a free repair kit: (800) 506-4636 or www.windowcoverings.org.

5) Deluxe matchstick roll-up shades imported by International Merchandise of Columbus, Ohio

Contact the WCSC for a free repair kit: (800) 506-4636 or www.windowcoverings.org.

6) Roman shades and Paxton roller shades

Retailer: Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, and PBteen division of Williams-Sonoma Inc. of San Francisco
Check the recalled roller shades to make sure the tension device provided is attached to the looped cord and installed into the wall. If not attached, consumers should immediately attach the tension device securely to the wall. If they no longer have the tension device, consumers should immediately stop using the roller shades and contact Pottery Barn to receive a replacement tension device: (800) 492-1949 or www.potterybarn.com, www.potterybarnkids.com and www.pbteen.com

If you'd like to watch Super Baby tell you a bit about the recall as well, watch the video from the WCSC below.

Roman shades and roll up blinds numbering in the millions can pose a danger to young children. Not all blinds are fixable with a repair kit, however.

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